The Vatican is investigating a Kenyan man’s claim that his father is an Italian missionary priest who impregnated his mother when she was 16 after he brought his case to the attention of an Irish-based organisation.
Gerald Erebon, 30, told The Associated Press: "According to my birth certificate, it is like I am living a wrong life, a lie. I just want to have my identity, my history."
He, his family and villagers in Archer’s Post, a remote area of Kenya, have claimed that he is the son of the Rev Mario Lacchin, an 83-year-old Italian priest of the Consolata Missionaries religious order, who ministered in Archer’s Post in the 1980s.
Rev Lacchin denies he is Erebon’s father and has refused to take a paternity test.
The Vatican stepped in and opened an investigation after Erebon’s claim was brought to its attention in May by an advocate for children of priests, Vincent Doyle, of the Coping International organisation. Mr Doyle obtained the birth certificates of Erebon and his late mother, Sabina Losirkale, which showed she had just turned 16 when she conceived in 1988. In Kenya, the legal age of consent was and is 18.
Since its foundation, Coping International has helped support and advocate for children of priests and religious, children of the ordained and religious with the institutional Catholic Church.
Formed in Ireland but operating globally, it also operates as a mandatory reporting authority and in the Erebon case, Mr Doyle contacted the Rome-based Consolata order, which sent a top official to investigate, the Rev James Lengarin.